Happy Independence Day from Jewrotica!

A168 independence

Dear Readers,

Rated PG-13Tis the season for freedom! Today we celebrate independence with our American (July 4th), Canadian (July 1st), Israeli (May 14th), Russian (June 12th) and French (July 14th) readers. (Who am I missing? If your country deserves a shout-out, hit me up in the comments!)

In honor of these festivities, we wish you a marvelous independence day, offer the following thoughts and invite you to share with us your responses to the questions below:

How do you celebrate your independence?

How, if at all, does your Jewishness affect your sense of personal freedom in America? Do you ever feel constrained to pursue a certain life while other Americans have more freedom to choose their own lifestyle?

Ayo Headshot UpdatedAyo: During the Passover season, I shared this musing on freedom and relationships. Independence, as viewed through the framework of relationships and interpersonal connection, is tricky. Independence is vital, but can feel empty when not tempered with connection and responsibility. I just finished reading a fascinating book on neuroscience, the limbic brain and the mammalian need for social connection. We may crave total independence at times, but humans are ultimately hard-wired for community and connection.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Texas Senator Wendy Davis who filibustered on the senate floor for thirteen hours last week while protecting the reproductive rights and freedoms of women throughout the state of Texas. Though I am disinclined from using this platform for political statements, Wendy has certainly reframed freedom and independence for many Texas women who will spend today celebrating the independence of their bodies from the hands of state legislature. On a final (and lighter) note, for those in Austin, I will be found be celebrating a classic July 4th this evening with fireworks, outdoorsy fun and a symphony orchestra concert (sorry, three weeks…) at Auditorium Shores along the water. See you there!

Emma MorrisEmma: Having lived in the United States my entire life, it’s difficult to imagine not having the rights I have to live my life in whatever manner I choose – that is, it’s easy to take independence for granted. When I think about the ways in which I celebrate my independence, it really hits me that in many other places in the world (or even in some place in the US), I wouldn’t have the freedom to express myself: it might not be possible for me to be involved with Jewrotica, and I might not be able to write about (let alone publish) anything erotic or esoteric. One way that Jewishness affects my personal freedom is that predominantly Jewish forums have provided me with an outlet for this kind of expression.

Leora-Flax-PhotoLeora: Lately, I’ve been celebrating my independence by choosing my own path to spirituality. Some of the choices I’ve made– over the past year especially–have been unconventional to say the least, and definitely stray from the Judaism I learned from my parents. But I’ve found my own ways to pray, to believe, and to develop a deep, long-lasting bond with the Jewish community. I feel downright patriotic, knowing that I live in a place where I can combine my love of my religion, my love of country, and love of self. I’ve never felt so free or so spiritual ‘til now: now that I am finding my own ways to show my faith and love for God.

team_davidDavid: Ah. Freedom and independence. These are not simple concepts by any means. Often times when we “unburden” ourselves from one set of norms, all we do is bind ourselves to yet another set of norms that end up being as or more oppressive and demanding than the previous norms. As the Who said – Here’s the new boss, same as the old boss. And of course when one studies human nature, it makes perfect sense. There’s a certain comfort and security in bondage – you may not be “free” but you always know what to expect.

For me, true freedom is to be in a constant state of this sublime combination of wonderment and fear – taking a leap of faith, never really knowing exactly what to expect but often coming face to face with pure unadulterated awesomeness. As such, I am humbled and grateful to Hashem for his sublime gift of life and free will and I seek only to serve God while desperately struggling to be worthy of his generosity. That to me is true freedom.

LimorLimor: “How do you celebrate your independence?” Wait..is this euphemism for my promiscuity? Now now…I never 😉 I believe that truly celebrating one’s independence encompasses ‘not giving a damn’…is that too harsh? I think not.

Honestly, I can only speak for myself when claiming that all of my life choices from my degrees to my career choices to my lifestyle, my ‘style’, my refusal to surrender to norms, my alternative relationship choices and so forth, represent my constant pursuit of independence.

Society – Western society in particular, that is – tends to utterly adore boxing us into a lovely, suffocating form of..well..something that Good Ol’ society is comfortable with. Now, you can play along and still enjoy an independent, gratifying life. Nonetheless, for the majority of us, these norms or ‘containers’ do not work for us and thus force us into a constant struggle, just in order to get some comfort.

I say NO! I also say: take it upstairs, if you have an issue! ‘HE’ decided on me and mine, and I tend to accept and obey. To HIM! An acquaintance of mine told me she wants a man to ‘unveil the hussy in her’…Mine needs to be restrained & locked away… 😉 go figure!

In a nutshell, celebrate your ability to make a choice, live to the fullest and don’t ever regret anything that once made you smile…Happy 4th Y’all!

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Light and Love,
Ayo Oppenheimer - Final Version of Signature and the Jewrotica Team

Founder and editor of Jewrotica, Ayo spent the past two years full-time RVing North America with her Jewish educational film program.

Ayo alternates between intensely pursuing fun new experiences and equally intensely trying to do good by people. She would love to hear from you.